This paper examines the historical evolution of the legal basis for premises liability cases and their connection to crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED).
Crime victims are increasingly seeking compensation from the owners and managers of properties on which crime occurs. The authors' research on CPTED and premises liability found that in order to find for the plaintiff in such cases, the jury must implicitly agree that the setting in which the crime occurred was critical and that had the property been designed or laid out differently and adequately guarded, the criminal would likely have been deterred or prevented from attacking. This study also found that the courts use the "totality of the circumstances test" to determine whether security measures were inadequate and below generally accepted standards for a particular industry. Further, the lack of prior similar crimes does not mean that a property owner should not take reasonable precautions to prevent crimes that most would agree should be reasonably foreseeable. Therefore, property owners can expect to be subject to increasing litigation if they fail to take reasonable steps to make their property secure.
Date Published: January 1, 1996
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